I only recently jumped on the VR (Virtual Reality) bandwagon by purchase of a cheap Gear VR headset that uses my smartphone for rudimentary VR. It has convinced me of the tech’s future.
The first thing I did was explore via the VISO Places app. It is essentially Google Earth for VR. I can name any place in the world or any street in the US and suddenly I’m there, free to look in any direction. I have seen Tokyo, Vegas, and ancient ruins. I retraced my steps from a trip to Ireland 20 years ago. I visited some old family houses and saw the changes the new owners have made in recent years. Fascinating, with endless possibilities!
Next, I experimented with a handful of interactive experiences. Time Machine VR and Ocean Rift (demo) offered a sense of scale as aquatic dinosaurs swam by or a great white approached a diving cage. Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay showed what it’s like to interact with vividly detailed and well animated characters in a virtual environment. SketchFab let me view animated 3D models from many angles.
But my favorite step into the world of VR has been joining the development side. Though I am still learning how to avoid skews and errors, Kuula’s 360 image sharing service and Microsoft’s ICE (Image Composite Editor) or Hugin stitcher software have enabled me to craft my own virtual reality scenes by combining screenshots from video games. These past two weeks, I have produced spherical VR images for ancient Alexandria and Memphis in Egypt during the Roman occupation, for Minas Morgul and other settings in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, for a cartoonish land of pirates, and the Himalayas of Nepal. With a VR headset, anyone can step into these settings and look all around in wonder. Here is my growing collection of VR scenes:
Not every game is amenable to creation of these VR translations. I have so far failed to translate the beautiful environments of For Honor and Star Wars: Battlefront. And I have yet to attempt VR translation with real photography, though it is practiced by many others (realtors, foremost). But this has become a rewarding hobby.
Has anyone else dipped their toes into VR or AR?